Product Review: the Time Timer PLUS watch

The good people at Time Timer recently asked me to review their new Time Timer PLUS watch.   Although the product is intended primarily for kids, there is a version for adults, and my review is from an adult's perspective.  Here's what I found:

The first thing I noticed about the Time Timer watch is its hefty size.  This could be a good thing, seeing as how its primary purpose is to provide a visual cue of the passage of time.  Also, it should be able to stand up to all sorts of ADHD-inspired abuse.  Adults with thinner wrists like mine might prefer the Youth model; go with the smaller version if you’re between sizes.

Operation is intuitive and straightforward if you’re used to sports watches like the Timex Ironman.  Press the “Mode” button to toggle between Clock, Timer, and Alarm.  Press and hold “Set”, press the up and down keys to set the hour, press “Next” to get to minutes, press “Set” again to make it stick.  There’s no complicated instruction manual in the box – I guess they know we ADDers won’t read it anyway.  There is a “quick start” guide printed on the box, and a video at www.timetimer.com in case you get stuck.  Cool, one less thing to file.

The Time Timer feature is clearly the main attraction, and the primary reason you’d want to buy this product.   It displays the time remaining graphically as a fraction of a pie.  (The pie, incidentally, isn’t nearly as red as it shows in the pictures, it’s more of a vaguely reddish gray unless you hold it at exactly the right angle.)  When I first started using it, I was perturbed that I couldn’t easily see how many minutes remained, although this is displayed in a small font down at the bottom (I had to look closely to see it).  But I quickly discovered that what I REALLY wanted to know is, “Am I almost done?” The watch tells me that instantaneously.  I don’t have to do the translation.  This is key for the ADD brain.  Half a pie?  No, not even close to being done.  A sliver?  Yeah, I can start winding down now.  You can set it to vibrate, beep, or do both when the time is up.    I really like the vibrate mode.  That way I’m not announcing to the whole room that the time is up.  I can use it for meetings so I know when to start wrapping things up.  The downside is that I have to remember to set it.  As I mentioned, setting the timer is fairly straightforward.  But it does take quite a few key presses  – at least five, not including the number of times you hit “up” or “down” to select the number of minutes.  This is not an issue if you can leave it set for the same amount of time, for example a 25 minute work block.  Then it’s only two key presses, “Mode” and “Start”.   I mention this because realistically, something has to be easy to use or we probably won’t use it at all.

The Clock feature has an analog display (hour and minute hands), with a digital readout (HH:MM:SS) at the bottom.  This gives you the best of both worlds, but it’s a little difficult to see.  Nothing unexpected here.

The Alarm feature has an analog display too.  It’s very similar to the clock, but different enough that I can tell them apart.  Like the Time Timer, I can set it to ring, vibrate, or both.  There is no snooze option.

My chief complaint about the Time Timer watch is that some of the characters are really hard to read.  They’re either so small that I need to put on my reading glasses to see them, or they’re so faint that I have to put the watch under a light and turn it in different directions to make them out.   All the buttons are labeled, but the labels are either light gray on a dark gray background or engraved into a brushed silver background.  I’m guessing that this design decision was based on aesthetics – the watch is very clean and crisp.  Fortunately, the button text isn’t terribly important because you’ll quickly memorize the functions anyway.  Unfortunately, some essential features, like the a.m./p.m. indicator, are so small that I cannot see them at all without the dreaded reading glasses.  A younger set of eyes should be able to read them just fine.

Bottom line?  This is a great extension of the Time Timer product line.  If you like the original Time Timer, you’ll love this watch.  It’s exactly what it’s meant to be: a Time Timer that you can wear.   This could be the solution for someone with no sense of time.